As ‘Subscription Fatigue’ Sets In, the OTT Reckoning May Be Upon Us

Nearly half of consumers are frustrated by streaming overload

44% of consumers surveyed said "no ads" was the top reason to subscribe to a new streaming service. Getty Images
Headshot of Sara Jerde

Deciding which streaming outlet you want to subscribe to can be just as hard as finding a show itself.

With options from big players like Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu, Showtime, Amazon and YouTube Premium—and looming new platforms from the likes of Disney, Apple, AT&T and NBCUniversal—consumers are already starting to grow frustrated with the crowded streaming marketplace as “subscription fatigue” sets in, according to Deloitte’s 13th edition of its Digital Media Trends survey.

Viewers are taking advantage of these options: the average video consumer subscribes to three video streaming services, said Deloitte. But they’re growing frustrated over just how many options they have.

Nearly half of those surveyed, at 47 percent, said they are frustrated by the growing number of subscriptions and services to watch their shows. And this audience grows attached to the content: 57 percent of consumers said it frustrates them when shows and movies disappear from their streaming libraries.

These statistics are ones to watch as more companies enter the streaming space and more content is created for these subscription-based models. The insight is important to consider as more media organizations continue to deepen their investments in this space and grapple with gauging how much consumers can—and will—pay for content each month.

“With more than 300 over-the-top video options in the U.S., coupled with multiple subscriptions and payments to track and justify, consumers may be entering a time of ‘subscription fatigue,’” said Kevin Westcott, vice chairman and U.S. telecom and media and entertainment leader, Deloitte LLP, in a statement. “As media companies and content owners wrestle with how to retain and grow their subscriber base, they should not only continue to strengthen their content libraries, quality, distribution and value, but also keep a close eye on consumer frustrations, including advertising overload and data privacy concerns.”

Viewers know what they want to watch—at least 69 percent of the time—but 43 percent said they’ll give up on their search if they can’t find their desired show or movie within a few minutes.

Meanwhile, advertising, or lack thereof, may be driving more consumers to these streaming services from linear outlets.

A hefty 75 percent of consumers surveyed said they would be more satisfied with their pay TV service if there were fewer ads, and an overwhelming majority (82 percent) said that ads were excessively repeated.

Of those interviewed, 44 percent said “no ads” was a top reason to subscribe to a new paid streaming service. They said eight minutes per hour of ads were the ideal amount, and that they’d stop watching at 16 minutes or more of ad time.

You can read the full Digital Media Trends survey here.


@SaraJerde sara.jerde@adweek.com Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.
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